|As a life-science entrepreneur, James Cullem has assisted a number of early-stage life science companies over the past decade. Over the past six years, he has served as CEO for a trio of start-up biotechnology companies, and has served as part of senior management teams at early-stage proteomics and genomics companies. Here, James Cullem talks with the staff of Oceans 2003 about some exciting new developments occurring in the personalized medicine field.
Oceans 2003: What are the three companies created under your watch?
James Cullem: The companies are Halcyon Diagnostics, Paradigm Oncology and Sierra Glycomics. Presently, only Paradigm Oncology is a live effort.
Oceans 2003: Let’s hone in on one of these companies in particular: Paradigm Oncology. Can you give us a brief overview of its vision and mission?
James Cullem: Certainly. Paradigm Oncology (based near Boston, MA U.S.A.) is a start-up personalized medicine company focused on developing a first-and-best-in-kind predictive diagnostic test to improve the treatment and care of malignant brain cancer (glioblastoma multiforme) patients. Our vision is to bring the promise of personalized medicine to this very underserved patient population.
Oceans 2003: Could you explain glioblastoma multiforme to our readers?
James Cullem: Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM,) is the most common, lethal and aggressive form of brain cancer. Unfortunately, it is largely incurable and difficult to meaningfully treat at this time. It remains one of the most lethal of all cancers, and is a pressing, unsolved challenge in cancer care.
Oceans 2003: How many patients are currently affected by glioblastoma multiforme?
James Cullem: Over 75,000 patients are diagnosed each year worldwide. Many patients fail to survive beyond six months after their diagnosis.
Oceans 2003: What treatments are available to ward off this terrible disease?
James Cullem: The only approved, front-line drug at this stage is a chemotherapeutic (temozolomide) which has not been meaningfully improved upon, in terms of lasting therapeutic benefit, in the past 15 years. The advent of personalized medicine and targeted therapeutics will hopefully change that.
Oceans 2003: How is Paradigm Oncology hoping to make progress in addressing this challenge and unmet need?
James Cullem: The company is developing a novel diagnostic test, based on a set of new biomarkers, that will provide medical professionals valuable information about the biology of a particular GBM’s patient tumor, to help inform potential treatment options for that particular tumor and patient. As a result, treatment options (some of which will be investigational drugs currently in clinical trials) can be discussed with greater insight and tailored to fit the patient’s specific needs and desires.
Oceans 2003: How have you personally contributed to shaping the leadership of Paradigm Oncology?
James Cullem: I am a co-Founder alongside our cancer expert, Dr. Robert W. Sobol, Ph.D., and am thrilled to have benefited from his knowledge, energy, and commitment to improve GBM patient care. Additionally, we have been honored with the participation of a number of experienced and highly knowledgeable Advisory Board members, who are among the leading visionaries in the field of GBM tumor therapy and patient care. Working alongside this team has been, and continues to be, a great privilege.
Oceans 2003: It sounds like the company is doing wonderful work.
James Cullem: We certainly aim to, but there is much more to be done, and we look forward to advancing towards our ultimate goal of meaningfully impacting on and improving GBM patient care.
A noted biotechnology executive, James Cullem resides in the Boston area, and remains active in the formation and leadership of personalized medicine and predictive diagnostics companies.